‘He’s a real leader and an alpha male’: Penn State’s most recent hiring, Keon Wylie has tools to be special with Nittany Lions, says coach

Don’t be surprised staring at the stars when it comes to Keon Wylie.

That’s the message Devon Johnson delivered on Saturday when discussing Penn State’s latest engagement. And Johnson, Imhotep’s second-year head coach, would know better than anyone.

The little Philadelphia school has produced some of the best talent in Pennsylvania – perhaps the country – in recent years. That includes former Penn State defensive end Shaka Toney and Enai White, PennLive’s highest-ranked player in Pennsylvania for the class of 2022.

Johnson’s schedule has had its fair share of players announced and, he said, Wylie, who is rated as a three-star prospect by 247 Sports, is as good as any of them.

“We were fortunate to have some great defensive ends,” Johnson told PennLive. “But Keon is up there with these guys, and it’s because of his first step.”

That is, the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder comes off the edge, often faster than the opposing attacking tackle can get out of position. Johnson said a first step like Wylie’s is rare, and it’s that trait that helped him register 10 sacks in four games earlier this spring.

But there is more.

“People don’t know that another thing that makes him so special is the way he plays the race too,” Johnson said. “He’s tenacious. He will close block C. He also started playing tight end this year and he really helped us with his block in the running game.

Johnson also noted that Wylie was elected team captain as a junior this spring and praised his mental makeup.

“He’s the most competitive kid I’ve ever met,” he said. “He’s got the will to win and he wants to compete to win in everything we do. Whether in the weight room or in the classroom or on the court, he wants to win.

“He’s a real leader and a dominant male. He’s just fearless.

So while Wylie may not have four stars to his name, Johnson said he wouldn’t be surprised if he outperforms a lot of guys in this class who do.

“It hasn’t even scratched the surface yet, honestly,” he said. “At the next level he’s going to play a certain type of outside linebacker and his passing coverage is also exceptional. It’s something he hasn’t really shown yet. He can rush the passer and play in space.

“It hasn’t scratched the surface,” he continued. “There is so much he is capable of. “

Wylie is Penn State’s 14th engagement for the 2022 class and comes just a day after the team got a commitment from 6-foot-6, 310-pound Lackawanna offensive tackle JB Nelson.

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– Follow Brian Linder on Twitter @SportsByBLinder

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